The holiday season is upon us, and for many of us it's the happiest time of the year - and also the most stressful. Whether it's planning travel to see multiple sets of family members, the pressure of cooking a big meal (and if you're in New York - cooking a big meal in a very small space), or knowing your bank account is going to take a big hit from all the travel and gift-giving, this season of merriment can sometimes turn into a season of anxiety. To keep the holidays as joy-filled as possible, I've come up with a few tips and tricks over the years that have helped me tremendously - I hope some of them may help you as well. Let's dig in.
- Gift smart, not hard
Over the last few years my family has expanded in a pretty big way. Our core unit went from five to eleven, and suddenly gift giving became a much bigger expense. So my husband and I decided to get into what we call "themed gifting". Each year we pick a place or a thing that's special to us, and get everyone on our list something - and to be clear, the same thing - to commemorate it. Maybe it's truffles from a local chocolate factory we've fallen in love with, or tea from a country we had the chance to visit. Whatever it is, it comes from our hearts but doesn't break our bank - a real win-win.
- Plan your next trip FAST
Let's face it - we all love going home for the holidays, but those trips rarely feel like vacations. Either you're cooking, baby-sitting, grocery shopping, attending worship services, road-tripping or a million other things. I want to be able to cherish the moments I have with my family, and sometimes the best way for me to do that is to get another trip on the calendar - one that's just about what I want to do. It may sound selfish, but it's truly about self-care. Loving and caring for your family is a privilege, but when you find yourself in a constant state of giving it can end up feeling like a chore. So if you can, book a weekend away (or a staycation) that's truly all about you - I promise it will make the time with family even sweeter.
- Edit, edit, edit
When it comes to holiday meal planning, this is my mantra. My husband LOVES to cook, and if he had his way we'd be serving up a 12-course gourmet feast that takes two and a half days to prepare. That's where I come in - I love a holiday feast as much as the next girl, but I've also witnessed enough kitchen meltdowns to know simpler is better. My advice? Think about all the things you want to make (or have been asked to make), then cut that list in half. Let store-bought replacements or other family members take half the items while you settle in to make 2 or 3 things only. You can thank me later.
- Remember: there's no one way to do the holidays
I realize this list has been centered on premises that aren't true for everyone: we don't all have families to spend the holidays with, we don't all have the means to travel and buy gifts, and for many the holidays are actually a time of grieving, not mourning, because of family members who are no longer with them. I get that. And while I can only speak from my personal experience, I want to be clear that there's no one way to do the holidays. So if this list isn't helpful, I encourage you to make your own. Find a few ways to ease some of the season's stressors, and some time to love yourself in the process. That's my holiday wish for you.